Sometimes it’s the simple things that make me smile.
No, let me correct that, it’s always the simple things that make me smile!
Take for example last Friday.
My old mate G, who you may recall is currently undergoing chemo-therapy for a particularly nasty form of leukaemia, though what form isn’t nasty, called me up and asked if I fancied getting out on two wheels. Do bears crap in the woods? Yeah, of course I was up for a trundle around on the bikes!
One thing you have to understand about my mate G, is that if he didn’t have bad luck he would have no luck at all. Having to endure regular sessions of Chemo-Therapy is rough enough, but the previous weekend G got knocked off his motorbike by an elderly lady in a car who jumped a red light and didn’t stop!
Fortunately G got off pretty lightly with only some bumps and bruises, mostly testament to wearing good protective gear, his Triumph Tiger was similarly lucky as it fell on top of G!
Anyway, the thing was that he needed a good ride with someone he trusted to get his confidence back and I was very happy to oblige!
I hooked up with G in a cafe on the Northern edge of Dartmoor and after a coffee we trundled off to the delightful old market town of Moretonhamstead.
Following G, I concluded that if his confidence had taken a knock by his accident, well it wasn’t showing as he expertly flicked his nimble bike round the corners leaving me to heave Baby around in his wake!
Mortonhamstead is an ancient town, noted in the Domesday Book in 1086 and granted a weekly market in 1207. It’s one of those places where everyone feels at home and a sense of belonging. Our mission there was to visit the noted butcher and delicatessen of Michael Howard, famous for his sausages and faggots!
Now before anyone gets carried away and wrongly assumes the modern, Americanised, derogatory use of the word, let me explain something for you!
Faggots are a traditional dish here in Britain, especially in the English Midlands and more importantly, Wales. Do you see where I’m coming from? It is normally made from pork meat off-cuts, offal and bacon minced together, wrapped in caul and formed into fist-size balls with onion and herbs added for flavouring. They were a cheap food of ordinary people and followed the maxim that the only part of a pig not used was it’s oink!
Today faggots have largely slipped from favour, except in their regional strongholds, but for aficionados such as G and I it’s well worth taking the trouble to hunt out the real thing, such as made by our butcher friend in Moretonhamstead. Not surprisingly I also ended up buying a pile of other tasty goodies!
Now, I mentioned that we were on the Northern edge of Dartmoor and regular blogonaughts will know that this is one of my favourite local playgrounds; 368 square miles of wonderful granite upland peaking at over 2000 feet and with lonely lovely twisty roads. I adore every wild inch of it, so I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity. Fortunately G feels the same as me about the place and it wasn’t long before I was following him across the wonderful wilderness. The unfenced roads across the moor all have a blanket 40mph limit to protect animals, I like it because it forces you to slow down and take a good look around and just enjoy the view a bit more.
Riding behind G the best view in the world for me was seeing him on his bike in front of me. The past months of chemo have been tough on my mate and his family and there have been times when our ride would have been out of the question. I’m keeping everything crossed, because it’s looking OK at the moment; G’s test results have been getting better and he seems to be responding well to the treatment. To see him in his element on his beloved Triumph made me very happy and judging by the grin on his face it did the same for him too!
We cut across Dartmoor and through the Stannary town of Tavistock, I must do a post about that place one day.
Soon we were into Cornwall and briskly heading into the vibrant fishing port of Looe, fresh fish for lunch was calling us!
During the summer months Looe creaks under the weight of invading holiday-makers, but last Friday it was an altogether more relaxed place and after a leisurely meal we took a gentle stroll along the quay and enjoyed an ice cream where the fishing boats were tied up.The afternoon was marching on and the light began to take on a golden tint, time to head for Dookes H.Q. across my beloved Bodmin Moor.Our two bikes roared in harmony as we sped through the clear moorland air.
Yes, the simple things definitely make me smile and riding a motorbike alongside my mate, as he fights his biggest battle, was one of life’s greatest privileges and gave me one of my happiest smiles!
“Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels —
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields.”
Thanks everyone for your support. Catch you soon.